Great Foliage Plants for Pots on the Patio for 2020
March 1, 2020

by Kate and Len Lucas

Like most gardeners we want plants that are not fussy, make an impact and almost look after themselves. Apart from anything else we are both retired and don’t want anything that is remotely hard work. So we have chosen six plants which we think fit the bill. We grow them in pots on our patio, and with one exception, never take them in or protect from the winter cold.

Each one is a character in its own right and they can stand on their own and say ”just look at me”. We wouldn’t be without them. The only gardening advice we would give is don’t overexpose them to the sun as they prefer some shade.


Highly architectural with large variegated leaves that will last right the way through the year until the autumn. In fact it behaves just like any other herbaceous perennial. It does flower and they are quite unusual but are covered by the much larger foliage which is the real reason for growing this plant. We have never taken it inside and is getting bigger by the year. It really is an absolute cracker.


These leaves are even bigger than Spotty Dotty. Wide and pale green they make a proper statement on the patio. The flowers appear as a great white froth on tall stems held above the leaves.


We bought one for the first time last spring and it is a very attractive oriental plant and the smallest in this selection. Born on single stems the leaves are divided into three segments (hence the name) which give this plant a rare grace and elegance. As a relative of the Arum lily family it has the typical flowers of the group and as soon as they begin to fade we just cut them off. Because we were unsure about its hardiness and didn’t want to lose it so we have over-wintered it in the greenhouse. It isn’t heated so we hope it will be alright.

RODGERSIA PINNATA – “Chocolate wing”

We chose this one because of the reddish tinge to the leaves and because this is the only one of these six which has a truly spectacular flower. Rodgersia’s are not uncommon of course and this is the only one in our garden.

CAREX TESTACEA – “Olive Carex”

Grasses are not everybody’s cup of tea but this one we think is very special. We have had one in a pot for several years and it looks great all year round. The olive coloured leaves have a reddish tint producing an extremely free-flowing graceful plant that will self-sow and run true.


Although not an evergreen this grass really does make a statement when the golden strap-shaped leaves make their appearance in the spring and will carry on right into the autumn.